Miracle Blog

To Patients with Questions about Recent Tank Failures

The recent news stories regarding nitrogen tank failures at two IVF clinics are understandably concerning. Both incidents are currently under investigation and details are yet to be disclosed, so it would be inappropriate for us to comment on them, but here are some facts that may be helpful:

Liquid nitrogen storage of frozen material is considered very safe and is the method of choice in most IVF clinics throughout the world for two primary reasons:

  • The temperature of liquid nitrogen is -321 degrees F, far below the temperature necessary to maintain the viability of frozen human tissue.
  • Liquid nitrogen tanks do not require electrical power in order to maintain their temperature, so power outages do not affect stored tissues.

Here is some information about our procedures to maintain the safety of your eggs, sperm and embryos stored at SDFC:

SDFC is in full compliance with all applicable federal, state and professional regulations and guidelines pertaining to the storage of frozen human tissue.

SDFC has never experienced a liquid nitrogen tank failure.

All nitrogen storage tanks are checked daily for any signs of frost or condensation that may indicate impending tank failure. This is more frequent monitoring than many IVF centers.

Nitrogen levels are measured in all tanks at least three times per week in order to detect increased consumption of liquid nitrogen, which may be a signal that a tank is weakening and may fail. If increased consumption of liquid nitrogen is detected, that tank is replaced. Again, this is much more frequent nitrogen level measurement than is practiced at many clinics.

All tanks are connected to an alarm system that notifies two laboratory staff members by phone in the event that a temperature variation is detected. If a tank goes into alarm, laboratory staff go to the lab and investigate, day or night. The alarm system also sends out notifications when the temperature in the tank is restored to normal.

SDFC understands how important and irreplaceable your frozen tissue is. We take extensive precautions above and beyond what is required by state and federal regulations to protect your precious frozen material, however it is impossible to safeguard against every circumstance. Thus, there is a risk, however small, that tissue can be damaged or destroyed.

Fertility Center of California, our long-term storage facility, is a fully-licensed and accredited tissue bank, and thus maintains full compliance with relevant federal, state and professional agencies. If you have frozen tissue in storage at FCC, please contact them directly for more details at (619) 265-0102.